Nourish - 9 Natural Remedies For Reducing PMS and Menstrual Cramps (Part Two)
Welcome to part two of naturally reducing PMS and Menstrual cramps. If you missed part one, check it out here. There we covered what are menstrual cramps and what can cause them.
Today we’re covering 9 ways to help balance hormones naturally and get back to a pleasant monthly cycle.
No. 1 – Focus on your digestion
After your liver detoxes and sends excess oestrogens to be excreted via your stools, they must then be excreted from the body. If you’re constipated, your stool isn’t going anywhere. The oestrogens and toxins can actually then be reabsorbed through the gut and back into your system.
You don’t want that!
If you are someone that doesn’t have daily bowel movements, improving your digestion is step one in balancing your hormones. See my previous blog here on improving your digestion.
No. 2 – Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
This means it’s free of sugar, processed foods, refined foods and alcohol. Limiting or removing dairy and gluten can also be extremely useful in getting rid of PMS and menstrual cramps.
All of these foods are known to increase inflammation in the body, and when it comes to PMS, inflammation increases the activity of aromatase. This is the enzyme that converts testosterone to oestrogen.
This leads to higher levels of oestrogen and oestrogen metabolites, which cause the symptoms of PMS.
And in the case of alcohol, there’s no good news for your cycle.
Research suggests that drinking too much alcohol may increase oestrogen levels, which can lead to cramping and even alter the length of your cycle.
And then there’s your poor liver. In addition to the excess oestrogen, alcohol also impairs your liver production, which is responsible for breaking down excess oestrogen.
No. 3 – Add cruciferous vegetables to your diet
The liver is your detoxification organ and is responsible for breaking down oestrogen so that it can be eliminated.
To support the liver’s natural detoxification process, increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables. These contain a helpful compound called indole-3-carbinol.
Eat at least one serving of these greens daily, like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, cabbage, bok choy and Brussels sprouts.
No. 4 – Eat more fibre
One way to reduce your oestrogen levels is simply to physically eliminate more of it.
Try adding more fibre to your diet in the form of:
- legumes and lentils
- nuts and seeds such as flaxseed or chia (chia pudding is great!)
- wholegrains like oats
Foods high in fibre bind to oestrogen, helping to eliminate it from the body.
Remember to drink plenty of fluids when consuming fibre. Otherwise, you could end up causing yourself the opposite effect and becoming constipated. Fibre absorbs water in your gut so you need to make sure you’ve got plenty of it!
No. 5 – Eat good fats, with a focus on omega 3’s
Omega-3s have been shown to naturally reduce period pain by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation. They even reduce the clotting and help to decrease prostaglandin production, related to menstrual pain.
- fish oil
- algae oils
- Krill oil
- nuts (walnuts are a great source of omega 3)
- seeds (flax, hemp, chia, sunflower and pumpkin in particular)
- seed oil e.g Udo’s oil
- green leafy vegetables
- oily fish
No. 6 – Manage Stress
When you are chronically stressed, you are persistently producing cortisol. This is a hormone that is supposed to be released intermittently, in times of true stress, and certainly not regularly.
Chronic stress is a hormone disruptor and therefore we need to use stress-relieving techniques to lower the hormonal effects on our body.
There are many options out there to help you distress. Think yoga, meditation, breathing practices, and regular exercise. Perhaps journaling, reading, knitting, having baths, manicures, pedicure, massages. If it relaxes you, do it!
Anything you can do to reduce stress and its negative effects on your body.
No. 7 – Stick to a sleep routine
As I mentioned previously in part one, a lack of sleep can be a huge contributor to hormonal imbalances. To make sure you’re getting quality zzz’s, it may help you to set a routine.
Try waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, with the aim of eight hours of sleep a night.
It’s also a wise idea to try and aim to eat your main meals roughly around the same time every day. This helps contribute to normal circadian rhythms, which leads to proper melatonin production and more restful sleep. See my previous blog on Sleep here.
No. 8 – Exercise
We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know it can actually help your PMS and menstrual cramps?
You don’t need to be taking high-intensity spin classes or boot camps, but research has shown that moderate, regular exercise is effective at significantly reducing cramps associated with menstruation.
Aerobic exercises release endorphin hormones or “feel good” hormones in the body. Interestingly, the presence of this hormone works like a natural pain killer.
A gentle walk or stretch on your yoga mat can really help pump your blood enough to reduce the cramping. Personally, I swear by it!
Another excellent result of exercise is weight management.
Fat cells in your body can act as a pool for hormones, for example, oestrogen. This can contribute towards an imbalance in your sex hormones, so it’s far better for your hormone health to keep your weight within the normal BMI range.
No. 9 – Consider taking supplements that help with PMS and Cramps
Supplementing daily with magnesium can be such a helpful trick for dealing with PMS and menstrual cramping.
I recommend BetterYou Magnesium spray because it is absorbed through your skin (which is one of the best ways to absorb magnesium). You could also opt for Epsom Salt baths a week before your cycle as well. They’re also lovely during.
Alternatively, you can take roughly 400mg of magnesium daily in powder, tablet or capsule form. If you take them before bed it may help you sleep better too!
If you’re not one for supplements, you’re in luck for food is one of the easiest ways to naturally boost your magnesium intake.
Reach for more green leafy vegetables, beetroot, beans, cacao (raw cacao, not milk chocolate!) and salmon to naturally increase your daily intake of magnesium.
A.Vogel Agnus Castus
A.Vogel Agnus castus is a licensed herbal remedy which can be used to help relieve symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) such as menstrual cramps, breast tenderness, bloating, irritability and mood swings.
It works by gently supporting progesterone, the opposing hormone to oestrogen and can help to restore hormonal balance.
One thing to note is that you must take this every day. It generally takes about 3 months to see results. Sorting out your hormones is not a quick fix!
(Please note, anyone using hormonal contraceptives, whether the Pill, an injection, an implant or the Mirena coil, should not use herbs such as Agnus castus that affect hormone levels.)
A. Vogel Milk Thistle is a wonderful herb to help with PMS. As we have discussed previously in part one, the liver has a controlling effect on hormonal balance. If the liver is stressed (which it is for most people these days!), it can affect hormonal balance leading to a variety of symptoms.
Try adding some milk thistle into your regime to gently support your liver.
Of course, there are many additional ways to support the reproductive cycle and I encourage further research. I hope that these 9 Natural Remedies For Reducing PMS and Menstrual Cramps work out for you lovely ladies 🙂
If your symptoms are severe, I would advise to seek out a health professional who deals in female health or consult your GP.
There could be more to it than just your diet and lifestyle choices, and it’s best to find out sooner rather than later. Hormone panel tests are a great way to see where your body is at.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication